Tuesday 29 June 2010

Still preparing for COW

In the midst of trying to sort out the last minute problems that always arise during the week before COW (e.g. 'Why do I have to share a room?'; 'Can I have my session moved from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon so that I can go to Fred's session about ...'), the two conference organisers – Tim Gow and myself – are also trying to prepare everything that we need to get ready for the sessions we will be putting on.

In Tim's case this has involved helping to plan the new Plenary Game (and making a large number of cardboard rifles with fixed baynots [so called because they are not bayonets!]) as well as the three other session he is putting on. For once I have confined myself to a single session about Joseph Morschauser's life and wargames, and by now I should have nothing left to prepare ... but I still do!

The problem is that I keep remembering things that are not on my 'to do for COW' list. For example this morning I was checking that I had all the bits and pieces I need so that session attendees will have the opportunity to try out Morschauser's 'Frontier' rules. I seemed to have everything in place ... but then realised that I had no hills! I could not do anything about it at the time as I had to go to work, but this has now been added to my 'to do' list for tomorrow.

I also noticed that the Chessex Battlemats that I had so lovingly stored in an A1-size art folder so that they could be kept flat were now at the bottom of the folder in a sort of folded, crumpled heap. The art folder kept them flat as long as it was kept flat, but as soon as I stood it upright the weight of the Battlemats was too much for the thin plastic the folder was made from and they folded in upon themselves. The only solution was to roll them round a large diameter tube ... but I did not have one, so it was off to Staples after work to buy one!

With a bit of luck I should be able to get everything left on my 'to do' list done tomorrow ... but as I was leaving work I got the news that we are going to have a visit from Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education) tomorrow ... so everything might just have to be put back until Thursday, after which it will be too late to do anything about it.

C'est la vie!

Paddy Griffith: Keeping his memory alive

Paddy's death has had a very profound effect on many people. I have had numerous emails and comments from people who had never met him but knew of his work as a writer and wargame designer. In addition, as of today there have been eighty eight posts on The Miniatures Page.

Within Wargame Developments there are quite a few members who knew him well – some very well indeed – and we hope to set aside some time at COW next weekend to discuss how we can keep his memory alive and to move his work forward if that is possible. One decision has already been made; the next issue of THE NUGGET will be devoted to Paddy. It is hoped to publish a sample of some of the articles he wrote for the journal as well as a collection of reminiscences and thoughts about him.

There is, however, a feeling that some form of longer-lasting memorial could and should be created to mark his impact on both the world of military history and wargaming. The nature of that memorial is currently up for discussion, but if anyone has any thoughts on what form it could take, please could you communicate them to me so that they can be included in any discussions that I am privy to.

Sunday 27 June 2010

Paddy Griffith: Comments

I always try to reply to comments made about my blog entries ... but over the past few days I have broken this self-imposed 'rule'.

There have been many people who have wanted to make comments about Paddy in reply to my blog and the various other places on the Internet where tributes are being made. I decided that such comments should be left as they are because they needed no reply from me. Eventually I hope to pass them on to his family so that they read them and gain strength from the deep regard that so many wargamers had for him.

I knew Paddy quite well, but many people only knew him through his writings. I understand that the Vintage Wargaming website has made several of his articles from the WARGAMER'S NEWSLETTER and MINIATURE WARFARE available, and I will be discussing with my colleagues in Wargame Developments whether or not it will be possible to do the same for his articles in THE NUGGET.

Saturday 26 June 2010

Paddy Griffith: An addendum

I realised this morning that I had not done full justice to Paddy both as a writer and as a publisher in my most recent blog entry.

The list of works that he wrote should have also included the following:
  • ‘The Ultimate Weaponry’ (1991)
  • ‘Forward into Battle: Fighting Tactics from Waterloo to the near Future’ (1992)
  • ‘The Viking Art of War’ (1995)
  • ‘British Fighting Methods in the Great War’ (1998)
  • ‘The Peninsular War: Aspects of the Struggle for the Iberian Peninsula’ (1998)
  • ‘Battle Tactics of the American Civil War’ (2001)
  • ‘Fortifications of the Western Front 1914 – 18’ (2004)
  • ‘The Vauban Fortifications of France’ (2006)
  • ‘French Napoleonic Infantry Tactics 1792 – 1815’ (2007)
  • ‘World War II Desert Tactics’ (2008)
  • ‘The Great War on the Western Front: A Short History’ (2008)
  • ‘Sprawling Wargames Multiplayer Wargaming’ (2009)
In addition I should have mentioned that he set up two small publishing ventures, Fieldbooks and Paddy Griffith Associates.

Fieldbooks published only two books, but they were both extremely well received and set a style and standard that combined excellent text and illustrations that others would do well to copy:
  • 'Battle in the Civil War: Generalship and Tactics in America 1861 – 65' (1986) by Paddy Griffith and illustrated by Peter Dennis
  • 'Battle in Africa 1879 – 1914' (1987) by Howard Whitehouse and illustrated by Peter Dennis
During its existence Paddy Griffith Associates published the following:
  • 'How to Play Historical War Council Games' (1991) by Paddy Griffith
  • 'The Battle of Blore Heath, 1459' (1995) edited by Paddy Griffith
  • '"A Widow-making War" – the life and death of a British officer in Zululand, 1879' (1995) edited by Howard Whitehouse
  • '"Buckle for your Dust" – Vietnam Wargame Rules, 1965-73' (1995) by Greg McCauley
  • 'With the Rank and Pay of a Sapper – a history of the Nuneaton 216th (Army Troops) Company, Royal Engineers' (1998) by Professor James Sambrook
  • 'The Battle of Worcester 1651' (2002) by Tony Spicer

Friday 25 June 2010

Paddy Griffith

Paddy Griffith is dead.

The news of his untimely death so soon after his recovery from bowel cancer reached me this afternoon ... and stunned me. It stunned me for a variety of reasons.

Firstly, next weekend Wargame Developments will be hosting the 30th COW (Conference of Wargamers) and Paddy was going to both attend for the first time in many years and he was going to run the Plenary Game. This always sets the 'tone' for the Conference, and by all accounts it was going to be a good one. The fact that Paddy was going to attend was one of the reasons why places at the Conference were almost all gone by early this year.

Secondly because it made me realise how much I owed him both directly and indirectly. When he organised the NEW DIRECTIONS IN WAR GAMING conference that took place at Moor Park College from 23rd to 25th May, 1980, I had no idea quite how much it was going to influence my life. I was very much a solo wargamer and went not quite knowing what to expect. What I ended up with was a whole new view on what I could get out of wargaming and – ultimately – a whole new group of friends and wargaming companions.

At the final session of the conference it was decided to set up an organisation that would 'spread the philosophy of realistic wargaming through the hobby ("better realism and better game structures") and ... put like-minded 'realistic' wargamers in touch with each other, so that they can more easily exchange ideas and rules. ... We will hold a conference similar to Moor Park, every year.'

Forgetting all that I had ever been told about volunteering, I was elected Treasurer and Membership Secretary of Wargame Developments … and I have remained in that post ever since.

Paddy Griffith was the ‘father’ of Wargame Developments, and like all fathers he saw his ‘child’ grow and develop over the years. Eventually he left it to its own devices, but I know that he liked to keep in touch with what it was doing and how it was developing. In many ways his ideas about how Wargame Developments should develop were ahead of their time, and in retrospect one can see that he was right more often than he was wrong … and that many of those who were loudest in condemning his ideas have eventually has to agree that they were in error and that he was not.

The continued existence of Wargame Developments and the Conference of Wargamers are testimony to the fact that Paddy had recognised thirty years ago that there was a need for a group of people within the world of wargaming who could work together to develop and improve wargaming. Contrary to popular belief anyone could (and can) join Wargame Developments; you did not nor do not have to be invited to join … and it has always been thus. It has always been a self-selecting group. Some people have been members for many years; some join for a year and then leave because they find that it is not for them. What can be said is that its membership has and does include people from many different backgrounds and whose wargaming interests are eclectic. This was something Paddy wanted to encourage as he saw the cross-fertilization of ideas and experience as vital to the continued development of wargaming.

But Paddy was not just a wargamer; he was a gifted and insightful military historian, a consummate writer, TV presenter (albeit for a relatively short time), and an educator. He was born in Liverpool in 1947 and attended Corpus Christi College, Oxford. In 1973 he became a lecturer in the Department of War Studies at RMA Sandhurst, where he remained until 1989. It was during his first year at Sandhurst that he organised a large-scale kriegsspiel of ‘Operation Sealion’ for the DAILY TELEGRAPH MAGAZINE. This brought together senior officers who had served on both sides during the Second World War, and showed that had the landings actually taken place the invasion would have been beaten during the following land battle. He followed this in 1979 with another large-scale kriegsspiel – ‘Operation Starcross’ – for Southern Television. This time the scenario looked at the possible course of a war between NATO and the WARPAC countries.

During his time at Sandhurst Paddy gained his Doctorate (1979) for his work on MILITARY THOUGHT IN THE FRENCH ARMY 1815 – 51 and also organised the NEW DIRECTIONS IN WAR GAMING conference.

On leaving Sandhurst he became a freelance write and publisher, and it was as a result of the reputation that he built up as a military historian and designer of wargames – along with his previous experience of working in television – that led to him being asked to become part of the team that worked on the TV series GAME OF WAR. Despite its poor reception at the time – partly due to it being scheduled very late at night – it was a bold if unsuccessful attempt to popularise wargaming.

The list of publications with which he was involved as a writer, contributor, or editor is prolific and phenomenal:
  • ‘French Artillery 1800 – 1815’ (1976)
  • ‘Napoleonic Wargaming for Fun’ (1980; Revised 2008)
  • ‘A Book of Sandhurst Wargames’ (1982)
  • ‘Not Over by Christmas’ (1983)
  • ‘Wellington-Commander: the Iron Duke's Generalship’ (1985)
  • ‘Rally Once Again’ (1986)
  • ‘Battle in the Civil War: Generalship and Tactics in America 1861-65'’ (1986)
  • ‘Military Thought in the French Army 1815 – 51’ (1989)
  • ‘Battle Tactics of the Civil War’ (1989) [an revised edition of ‘Rally Once Again’ that was published in America]
  • ‘Armoured Warfare’ (1990) – Chapter entitled ‘British Armoured Warfare in the Western Desert 1940 – 1943’
  • ‘America Invades’ (1991)
  • ‘How to Play Historical War Council Games’ (1991)
  • ‘Battle Tactics on the Western Front 1916 – 18’ (1994)
  • ‘The Battle of Blore Heath, 1459’ (1995)
  • ‘British Fighting Methods on the Western Front’ (1996)
  • ‘Verification 1995: Arms Control, Peacekeeping and the Environment’ (1995) – Chapter entitled ‘The Body Bag as Deterrent and Peace Dividend’
  • ‘Verification 1996: Arms Control, Peacekeeping and the Environment’ (1996) – Chapter entitled ‘The Military Need for Contact Mines’
  • ‘Passchendaele in Perspective: the Third Battle of Ypres’ (1997) – Chapter entitled ‘The tactical problem: infantry, artillery and the salient’
  • ‘The Art of War of Revolutionary France, 1789 – 1802’ (1998)
  • ‘A History of the Peninsular War, Vol.IX, Modern Studies of the war in Spain and Portugal, 1808 – 1814’ (1999)
  • ‘The Napoleon Options: Alternate decisions of the Napoleonic Wars’ (2000) – Chapter that describes the effect of a successful French invasion of Ireland
In recent years Paddy spent much of his time involved in projects such as THE BATTLEFIELDS TRUST and more recently the organisation and running of study days/wargames at the Imperial War Museum’s Duxford site.

I suspect that it is only now that he has died that his true worth as a military historian and innovative wargames designer will be recognised. For my part, sitting at my computer writing this blog entry has made me realise how influential Paddy had been on my life without me realising it. Thanks to him I have a group of very good friends with whom I not only wargame but with whom I enjoy a rich and varied social life. I know that if I had not gone to that first conference in 1980, I would have had none of these things, and my life would have been poorer as a result.

Paddy Griffith (1947 – 2010): May you rest in peace.

Latest COW Timetable

It is only a week to go, and Tim Gow has now published a revised version of the COW2010 timetable that includes the additional sessions that will be on offer. A PDF version of this new timetable can be downloaded from the Wargame Developments website or by clicking here.

There are now at least four sessions taking place in each time slot on the timetable, and this should give the attendees plenty of choice as to which of them they wish to attend.

Thursday 24 June 2010

More COW sessions

Tim Gow, who is the co-organiser of COW, has just notified me that three more session have been added to the programme. They are:

Phil Steele

2 player Anno Domino combat game based upon Henry V's assault on the breach at Harfleur as analysed by William Shakespeare.

Phil Steele

A product of the Society of Ancients 2010 Battle Day project, this is a conventional figure game in 10mm using well known mechanisms but with an unconventional spin.

Chris Hanley

A multi-player campaign game where players can take part in one or more missions, each of which will last about 45 minutes.

Wednesday 23 June 2010

Chessex Battlemats

I am more than just pleased with the Chessex Battlemats that I have bought to use at COW. Now that they have had some time to lay flat for a few hours, all the creases have dropped out. In addition, the vinyl they are printed on is heavy enough to stay flat and to 'stick' to the cloth I lay on my wargames table to protect its surface whilst I am using it.

The Battlemats come in a pale stone colour and they are printed with 1-inch squares on one side and 1-inch hexes on the other.

The outside dimensions of the Battlemats are 23.5 inches x 26 inches; the grids are 22 squares x 25 squares/21 hexes x 28 hexes.

It is possible to draw on the Battlemats with water-based non-permanent OHP pens, which means that some terrain features (e.g. rivers, roads) can be drawn on and then wiped off after the battle has been fought.

I like these Battlemats, and I am sure that they will be of use to me for some time to come.

Tuesday 22 June 2010

COW2010 Programme

I collected the COW2010 Programme from the printers this morning and it has been posted out to all attendees.

A copy of the Programme and the Timetable are available as PDF downloads from the Wargame Developments website.

The Chessex Battlemats have arrived!

At 7.30am the doorbell rang ... and the postman delivered the Chessex Battlemats that I ordered at 6.30pm on Sunday evening!

Not only does this enable me to tick one more thing off my 'Preparations for COW' list, it is also an example of the excellent service that some online retailers provide. In this case I bought the Battlemats from a UK-based supplier, RPG Miniatures (they also trade under other names, including Legend Games, The Games Place, and The Top Trumps Place).

Without the prompt and efficient service of online suppliers like this company I would have had to hunt round the small number of games shops in London and the South East of England to find these Battlemats. This would have taken me time that I do not have available at the moment as well as a considerable amount of money that I would have had to spend on the travel involved.

Monday 21 June 2010

Now that the 'excitement' is over ...

After the problems with the gridded battlefields that arose over the weekend, things can now begin to return to 'normal' ... well as close to 'normal' as they will ever be!

Having gone through my COW checklist, I now have ready:
  • My presentation about the life and work of Joseph Morschauser
  • Copies of the text of Joseph Morschauser's 'Shock', 'Musket', and 'Modern' period wargames rules as published in his book HOW TO PLAY WAR GAMES IN MINIATURE (These are to be handed out to anyone who comes to my COW session)
  • Copies of the text of Joseph Morschauser's 'Ancient' and 'Frontier' wargames rules (Again, these will be handed out after the COW session)
  • Copies of my Morschauser-inspired INTERBELLUM wargames rules (These will also be handed out after the COW session)
I now have to sort out the figures and terrain for the practical part of my COW session and so far:
  • I have ordered four Chessex Battlemats for the 'Frontier' battles
  • I have begun sorting the 15mm figures for the four 'Frontier' battles into armies for each participant to use
  • I have the green felt cloth (marked in grid of 3-inch/75mm squares) for the INTERBELLUM battle
  • I have yet to sort out the two 20mm armies for the INTERBELLUM battle
With a bit of luck – and no more crises – I should have everything ready by tomorrow evening.

Sunday 20 June 2010

Thank God for the Internet!

Having had several attempts to draw grids onto my cork-covered notice boards, each of which ended in a disaster, I talked to my wife about what to do next. She made several very useful suggestions, such as asking if I could paint the boards and draw new new grids on them or cover the existing grids in some way. She then asked if I had looked on the Internet to see if anyone printed 2-inch grids on fabric.

This sounded such a good idea that I did exactly what she had suggested ... and discovered that somebody did! Chessex make a variety of different vinyl Battlemats that are printed with hexes on one side and squares on the other. I looked at their catalogue and found that they did make Battlemats in the size I wanted and with 2-inch squares/hexes. The only problem was that they are only available in the US and the cost of buying them and shipping them over was just too much and delivery by the time I needed them could not be guaranteed.

So what could I do? Battlemats with 1-inch squares/hexes are available from UK suppliers, and it would only take a very short time just to mark the corners of every other 1-inch square dot drawn with a non-permanent OHP marker pen to indicate the 2-inch grid squares ... so I bought some!

An expensive solution to my problem ... yes ... but a small price to pay to remove what was becoming a major headache!

What a disaster!

I have just spent the last hour trying to mark to grid lines onto my cork-covered notice boards ... and so far nothing has gone right!

The first board turned out to be slightly warped, with the result that the ruler I was using to draw the grid lines ended up curving in the middle as I drew them. The result was that the grid squares ended up not being square and of differing sizes depending where they were on the battlefield.

The second board was not warped; its corners were not square, with the result that the when I had drawn the grid squares they were not square either!

The third board was square and not warped ... but the two longest sides were not quite the same length, with the result that the squares delineated by the grid lines running across the board had a taper to them.

At this point I walked away from the task rather than having a fourth failed attempt to get the gridded battlefields drawn correctly.

It is a painful thing to say but it is back to the drawing board to find a solution to my current problem.

Still preparing for COW

My preparations for COW2010 are still progressing at a steady pace, and today I have concentrated on making the gridded battlefields that will be needed so that attendees can try out Joseph Morschauser's 'Frontier' wargames rules.

I originally intended to make the battlefields from 60cm x 60cm squares of light brown felt that had a 5cm squared grid drawn on to them. I tried buying the felt from Hobbycraft, but they did not have enough in stock and what they had was very expensive. John Lewis could supply enough felt, but only in green, and as the figures I intended to use are based up for the Sudan, this was not a viable option.

In the end I opted to buy several cork-covered notice boards. These are bigger than the 60cm squares I had planned to use (they are 90cm x 60cm, including the frame) but other than having the grid lines drawn onto them, they are ready to go.

If you want to get ahead, get a hat

There was a time when every man appeared to wear a hat. In the UK the hat you wore to go to work in defined your social class. Even in my youth many office workers and professionals wore Bowler hats or Trilbies, whereas workingmen tended to wear flat caps. For some it became so ingrained a habit to wear a hat that they were seldom seen without one, even indoors at home. For example, I can hardly remember by paternal grandfather without his flat cap.

After the Second World War younger people began to stop wearing hats, and a famous chain of UK hat makers and gentleman's outfitters began to use the advertising slogan
'If you want to get ahead, get a hat.'
in the hope that young men would buck the trend and take up wearing hats. As an advertising campaign it failed, and other than the ubiquitous baseball cap it has become a fairly rare sight to see anyone wearing a hat that is not worn for safety reasons.

So what has all this to do with wargaming? The answer is simple – 'silly' hats can make a game just a little more memorable and/or enjoyable for the participants.

My introduction to 'silly' hats began with my becoming a founder member of Wargame Developments. I discovered quite quickly that getting a player to wear a 'silly' hat enabled them into 'character'. For example, give someone a tricorne hat and they seem to transform themselves into someone from the eighteenth century. 'Silly' hats therefore became part of the game designer’s toolbox, especially if you wanted to set the scene quickly for the players.

Over the years I have acquired a collection of 'silly' hats. (As an aside, they are called 'silly' hats because in the early days of Wargame Developments some 'opinion makers' amongst the UK wargaming community regarded members of Wargame Developments as rather too radical and/or not serious enough, and saw the wearing of hats to help players as being very silly. Mind you they also seemed to have a 'down' on the organisation for calling the figures we played with 'toys' or 'toy soldiers' and not something rather more pompous such as 'miniature military figurines'.)

My collection of 'silly' hats includes several berets, a British Colonial cork helmet (as worn during the Zulu War), a Planters-style pith helmet, a German World War II Field Cap, a Spanish Civil War helmet, three Budionovka hats ... and now a replica German pickelhaube. I bought the latter from a fancy dress suppliers and it arrived by post in just over 24 hours. It is made of thick plastic and looks quite convincing from a distance. I have bought it so that I can wear it during Paddy Griffith's plenary game at the forthcoming COW2010, after which it will go into the box with all my other 'silly hats', no doubt to be used again at some time in the future.

Friday 18 June 2010

It's been a busy few days ...

The past two days have been very busy at work. Actually, busy is an understatement ... things have been frantic!

4.00 p.m. today was the deadline for my students to hand in their coursework. They have known this for months – and in some cases, years – but some of them left it until almost the last minute to hand their work in ... and in several instances they did not manage it.

For the past two days I have been dealing with increasingly desperate requests for help and guidance on how to complete the 'missing' coursework whilst trying to get some students to actually get out of bed and turn up to do the work they needed to complete. In at least two cases I had parents arguing that it was unfair of me to expect their offspring to come in on days when they did not have timetabled classes to do work. How they expect them to cope if they actually make to university, I don't know!

But now it is all over. The coursework is marked, and the marks will go off to the examination board early next week. I know that on Monday I will have several students trying to hand work in after the deadline, and I will be under pressure from them and their parents – and possibly members of the school's management team – to accept it ... but in my book a deadline is a deadline.

It is now the weekend and hopefully I will be able to spend some time preparing for COW, which is now only two weeks away.

It is so nice to have something to look forward to!

Wednesday 16 June 2010

COW2010 Timetable

Tim Gow sent me the final version of the COW session timetable early today.

Although there is no set 'theme' for COW, it is interesting to note that there are several sessions that deal with the First World War including:
  • Oh, What a Wonderful War!
  • OP14
  • Square Bashing
  • Drumfire
Mind you, there are also sessions that deal with topics that range from ancient history right up until present times, so there should be something to suit most attendee's individual interests.


Now that I have finished watching GODS AND GENERALS I have decided to move on to watch GETTYSBURG. I saw film this some years ago and owned a copy on a pair of VHS tapes, but when I managed to buy it as part of a set with GODS AND GENERALS some time ago, I passed the tape onto someone else.

So far I am about halfway through the film, and I must admit that it is even better than I remembered it to be. It has firmly convinced me that I must re-visit the American Civil War and dig out my long-stored 15mm armies. I think that they are in my garden shed, where they were consigned some years ago. I hope that they have survived intact (they were sealed inside a plastic crate that has not be opened since); if not it will give me an excuse to buy a couple of new armies! As to rules ... well a modified version of Morschauser's 'Frontier' rules would be my first choice as I could fight a series of battles or a mini-campaign during the course of a day on my rather small wargames table.

But as I keep on saying, my first priority has to be COW2010!

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Gods and Generals: Part 2

I did manage to watch the rest of GODS AND GENERALS yesterday ... and it confirmed my feelings that it is a good (but not a great) film.

The battle scenes were portrayed particularly well (despite the 'explosion' of cannon balls so beloved of special effects departments and film directors!) and the use of the real town of Harper's Ferry to act as Fredericksburg meant that with the exception of those that were blown up, the buildings were original. This all added to the feeling that the producer had tried to get things as historically accurate as was possible within the constraints of a commercial film.

It has confirmed my desire to re-visit wargaming the American Civil War – and other wars that took place during the middle to end of the nineteenth century – sometime soon.

And now back to COW ...

Monday 14 June 2010

Gods and Generals

Last night I watched the first half of GODS AND GENERALS (2003), the prequel to GETTYSBURG (1993). Whereas I don't think that it is quite as good as GETTYSBURG, I still enjoyed it, and I am looking forward to watching the second part either today or tomorrow.

Whilst I was watching the film it struck me that it would not take a lot of time or effort to re-write Joseph Morschauser's 'Frontier' rules so that they could be used to fight American Civil War battles. In fact they could probably be used 'as is' although I suspect that a little tinkering might be required to give them the necessary period 'flavour'. For example:
  • Making the Confederate Infantry and Cavalry equivalent to European Infantry and Cavalry
  • Making Union Infantry and Cavalry equivalent to Native Infantry and Cavalry for the first few years of the Civil War
  • Giving the Confederates less Artillery
This is a project that is worth thinking about, and it would give me the opportunity to use my collection of American Civil War wargames figures that have been unused and in store for far too long.

Sunday 13 June 2010

COW Timetable

Tim Gow, who is the co-organiser of COW, has posted the provisional timetable of events for the COW2010 on the Wargame Developments Discussion Group. He does this every year so that attendees can begin planning what sessions they want to go to and for feedback from those who are putting on the sessions.

The latter is usually requests to be moved from one of the rooms used to another or for the time slot allocated to be changed. Once this is done he will then publish the final timetable ... in the full knowledge that it will change once the conference gets underway. More sessions will be added and some sessions will be cancelled, but the end result will be a conference that everyone will hopefully enjoy.

I seemed to be doing so well when ...

I felt really motivated yesterday and hoped to get a lot done last night ... and then I started to feel ill.

It began with a bit of a headache, then a rather unpleasant sweaty feeling, and finally a feeling of nausea. I put it down to tiredness as both my wife and I have been working quite hard over the past few days and have both been feeling a bit under the weather. I went to bed a little bit earlier than normal and hoped that a good night's sleep would cure me; it did not.

At about 3 o'clock in the morning, after tossing and turning for quite some time, and then dozing fitfully, I awoke with a very unpleasant taste in my mouth and the sudden desire to vomit ... which I did very soon afterwards. I felt a bit better after that, and went back to bed ... but I seemed unable to get back to sleep. Finally, at some time after 4 o'clock, I fell into a fitful and disturbed sleep.

I have just woken up and had a shower in the hope that this will revive me. I still have the headache, but it is not as bad as it was last night, and my stomach feels far more settled than it did seven hours ago. All I can surmise is that I have had some form of virus or food poisoning, and that it now passing out of my system. What I cannot understand is how I 'acquired' either ... but that is one of the vagaries of life.

With a bit of luck I shall begin to feel better as the day goes on, but some of my plans to prepare stuff for COW may have to be put back as I feel little inclination to do anything other than sit still and drink fluids.

Such is life!

Saturday 12 June 2010

Joseph Morschauser’s ‘Ancient’ period roster-system wargames rules

This morning I managed to transcribe the last set of Joseph Morschauser's wargames rules that I need ready for my session at COW2010, namely his ‘Ancient’ period roster-system wargames rules

This did not take me too long as I was lucky enough to be able to print off a copy of the relevant article about the rules that appeared in the Winter 1967 issue of MINIATURE PARADE. Thanks to HistoriFigs, who run the TABLE TOP TALK website and who are the current producers of Jack Scruby's range of figures, some of the more interesting articles from this out-of-production publication have been made available via the Internet.

These rules follow the pattern of all Joseph Morschauser's other sets of wargames rules, and use similar mechanisms. This makes it very easy to move from fighting battles from one historical era to another without having to re-learn or remember a completely new set of rules.

There is one thing that sets both the 'Frontier' and 'Ancient' wargames rules apart for the rest, and that is the point during each turn that firing takes place. In both these sets of wargames rules firing takes place before any units move, and all firing is regarded as simultaneous. In the case of the 'Frontier' wargames rules the firing refers to artillery, whereas in the 'Ancient' wargames rules it refers to missiles that are thrown.

This has given me something to think about. In my current Morschauser-inspired wargames rules units fire when they are activated. They may move and fire or fire and move. It does, however, make sense to resolve all firing by artillery and tanks before they move rather than when they are activated. I am loath to re-write my rules this close to COW but ...

Friday 11 June 2010

More preparations for COW

I seem to be on a bit of a roll at the moment with regard to my preparations for COW2010. Today I finished my presentation and have printed off copies of my slides so that I can have them in front of me as I speak (I do hate presenters who spend all their time reading what the audience can already see for themselves; I prefer to commentate and expand upon what the slides show).

I have also printed off fifteen copies each of the 'Frontier' wargames rules and the transcription of Joseph Morschauser's 'Shock' Period, 'Musket' Period, and 'Modern' Period wargames rules as published in his book HOW TO PLAY WAR GAMES IN MINIATURE (1962).

My next task is to sort out a sufficient number of figure bases so that several pairs of attendees can try fighting a battle with Morschauser's 'Frontier' wargames rules. I think that I have enough for three or four pairs of players; if so I will then need to source enough gridded battlefields for them to fight over.

With a bit of luck I should manage to do that tomorrow, and then I can concentrate of preparing the stuff I need to give attendees the opportunity to try out the latest version of my own INTERBELLUM rules, which are – of course – heavily based on Joseph Morschauser's rules.

Thursday 10 June 2010

Here's something I made up earlier ... or so I thought!

Many years ago I was given a model of a Gee Bee Model Z racing aircraft, and the design has always intrigued me. Therefore when I began the Interbellum blog some time ago I decided to base the design of an imaginary fighter aircraft belonging to the Soviet Peoples' United Republic (SPUR) – a somewhat obvious parody of the USSR – on the Gee Bee Racer. I named the aircraft the Rippov-1 (or R-1) and published a picture of the aircraft.

An artist's impression of the new R-1 fighter.

Imagine my surprise, therefore, when by chance I saw the following picture of the Nikitin NV-1 ... a real Soviet aircraft that appears to have been based on the Gee Bee Racer!

I thought that I was being imaginative ... but obviously not that imaginative!

Tuesday 8 June 2010

Preparing for COW

I have been continuing my preparations for COW2010 as it is now less than four weeks away.

So far I am managing to keep on track with regard to my preparations. As I have already mentioned in a previous blog entry I have managed to re-write Joseph Morschauser's 'Frontier' wargames rules for a modern audience, and last night I finished the transcription of his 'Shock' Period, 'Musket' Period, and 'Modern' Period wargames rules as published in his book HOW TO PLAY WAR GAMES IN MINIATURE (1962).

In making the transcription I was struck by both by how simple yet effective his game mechanisms are and how similar they are to those used in board wargames. I was also struck by the fact that although he uses the same basic game mechanisms for each of the different sets of wargame rules, he manages to write the same thing in different ways, and that you have to read all the different versions of the game mechanism to understand how it actually works!

My next target is to transcribe his 'Ancient' wargames rules. These are similar, but not the same, as his 'Shock' Period wargames rules, especially as the former uses individual figures on a gridded terrain and the latter uses stands (or as Morschauser like to call them, trays) on an ungridded battlefield.

Sunday 6 June 2010

Joseph Morschauser's 'Frontier' wargames rules

I managed to finish re-writing Joseph Morschauser's 'Frontier' wargames rules today as part of my preparation for COW2010. During the process of re-writing the rules I have not changed any of them; all I have done is to try to make them clearer for a modern audience.

What struck me during the re-writing process is how close the rules are to those used in some board wargames, and one feels that battles could just as easily be fought using a map divided up into grid squares with suitably sized counters for the units. That said, the 3D version using model figures and equipment mounted on stands has much more of an aesthetic appeal to me.

Because the rules were designed to fight colonial battles I have made them available as a downloadable PDF file in the Colonial Wargame Rules section of my Colonial Wargaming website. For ease of access they have not been password protected.

Read and enjoy ... and possibly use as well!

D-Day, 6th June 1944

Today is one of those important days when I remember that what I do for a hobby – 'fight' battles with my toy soldiers – other people did and do for real, and that when their battles are over not all of them will still be alive.

May they all rest in peace.

Saturday 5 June 2010

Preparing for COW2010

Besides collecting fees and sorting out ‘who sleeps where’ at COW2010, I also print and distribute the programmes that Tim Gow produces, print the large timetable that is put up in the main room at Knuston Hall, and prepare the attendees' badges. None of these is a major job on its own, but trying to do all of these things and prepare a session takes planning … and that it what I am now doing.

I only have a couple of people who have not yet paid their attendance fees, and I have the rooming pretty well sown up. I know that Tim will send me the programme sometime soon, and these will be printed by a local printer and sent out within a couple of days of me receiving the originals. The printer will also produce the large-size timetable from the original the Tim sends me. The address labels are all ready to be printed, as are the badges. So all that is left is my session … and that is where my real work begins!

As my previous blog entry states, I will be running a session about Joseph Morschauser. The session will include a presentation that covers:
  • A short biography of Joseph Morschauser
  • An outline of the three sets of rules he published in his book HOW TO PLAY WAR GAMES IN MINIATURE
  • An outline of his grid-based rules – including his ‘Ancients’ and ‘Frontier’ rules
  • An outline of my INTERBELLUM rules that are based on Joseph Morschauser’s ‘Modern’ period rules, adapted for a gridded battlefield
  • Attendees will then have the opportunity to try out Joseph Morschauser’s ‘Frontier’ rules or my INTERBELLUM rules.
So what progress have I made?
  • I have assembled the material I need for the biography, and all I need to do is to put it together as a PowerPoint presentation
  • I have yet to prepare the outlines of the three sets of rules he published in his book HOW TO PLAY WAR GAMES IN MINIATURE, but as they are all quite similar this should not present too big a problem in terms of time
  • I have already produced rough outlines of both Joseph Morschauser’s ‘Ancients’ and ‘Frontier’ rules, and all these require is some re-formatting so that they are easier to understand
  • My INTERBELLUM rules are written but as yet they have not been play-tested, and this is something that may have to wait until the session at COW2010
  • I have the figures ready for both Joseph Morschauser’s ‘Frontier’ rules and my INTERBELLUM rules, but I do need to make sure that I have a sufficient number of gridded ‘battlefields’ (and relevant terrain) available for the practical part of the session
I have my plan … all I need to do is to get on with implementing it!

Friday 4 June 2010

Nugget 236

I posted the latest issue of THE NUGGET this morning, and it should be with full members of Wargame Developments by early next week.

I have also uploaded the PDF versions of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT to the Wargame Developments website as well, and these are now available for full members and e-members of Wargame Developments to download and read.

Read and enjoy!

COW2010: A list of the planned sessions

COW2010 (the annual Conference of Wargamers that is run by Wargame Developments) is just four weeks away, and the list of sessions is beginning to come together. At present the list includes the following sessions.

Paddy Griffith et al

An adaptation of Joan Littlewood's "Oh What A Lovely War" (first presented as a stage show in 1963, then made into a film in 1969).

WD Display Team North

A game from that aims to re-create the final year of WW2 in Europe … in about 15 minutes!

Matthew Hartley

Each player's aim is to survive the day as part of the Anglo-Danish shieldwall on Senlac Hill, 15th October 1066.

Mike Elliott

A play-test session of a simple set of rules for Napoleonic wargames using 6mm figures.

Mike Elliott

An illustrated talk on the Battle of Northampton (July 1460) that took place during the Wars of the Roses.

Bob Cordery

This session will begin with a presentation about Joseph Morschauser and his rules, and will end with attendees having the opportunity to fight some battles using Morschauser's 'Frontier' rules and the most current version of my Morschauser-inspired Interbellum rules.

Tim Gow

A lawn game that will recreate a crucial moment in military history.

Jonathan Crowe

A team game involving 5 historical battles fought using ‘one-brain-cell’ rules, with two teams of five playing one turn in each battle, moving round against their opponents.

Phil Barker

Yet another visit to the battlefield that is Buggerupistan, this time featuring the town of Bhangbhangduq, poppy fields, some very expensive American maize and a lot of lovely new 28mm figures.

John Bassett

A role-play/planning game based on a real-life operation in the Arctic at the height of the Cold War.

John Bassett

An epic role-play/map game on the great slave uprising against Rome, featuring heroic rebels, dodgy pirates and corrupt governors, all done in finest WD taste.

David Bradbury

16th century galley warfare in the Mediterranean.

Ian Drury
THE LAST CRUSADE (The Battle of Nicopolis)

Jean Sans Peur and the The Last Crusade, featuring new rules for horse archers and a chance to see the Edirne slave market from the inside.

Richard Brooks
OP 14

An operational level Great War game set in 1914 that uses Red Square mechanisms adapted to reflect narrative level typical of Great War, i.e. large multi-corps battles.

Richard Brooks

Illustrated talk on one of history's most influential wargamers, who fought more unintended battles than any other great commander, and could be silent in seven languages.

Martin Wallace

A two-player, entry-level board game based on the first battle of Bull Run.

Martin Wallace

Another two-player game, this one about the long struggle between Britain and France for dominance in North America.

John Curry

Anti-terrorist training exercise in a hypothetical city, with the players take on roles within the city government and manage the changing situation.

John Curry

A reconstruction of this key wartime training game.

John Curry

After Dinner practical session about early wargames, including Triang's ‘Combat’, Waddington's ‘Battle of the Little Bighorn’, ‘Battle of Balaclava’ by Strand Magazine (1890), and General Horrock's ‘Combat’.

John Curry

Plan a WWII airborne operation, and then carry it out using Megablitz-type rules.

Martin Goddard & Rob Roriston

A chance to play one of the latest sets of rules developed by the Peter Pig team.

Martin Goddard & Rob Roriston

A revisit of an older game in order to make it better and include new ideas.

Martin Rapier

A fairly high level game looking at the planning and execution of a Corps level attack on the Western Front.

Tim Price

A presentation about life in the Green Zone in Baghdad that features NATO Missions, Bob on the FOB, General Majiid, Body Armour, DFACs, IDFs, the IZ, Sexy Interpreter Girl, photography, T-Walls, and the daily Car Bombs.

Tim Price

An After Dinner Game about a small band of determined men hunting for Saddam's hidden treasure ... Palaces! Marble Floors! 50 degree heat! Flies! Special Forces! The smell of toilets!

Tony Hawkins & John Bassett

A lawn game; more details to follow in due course.

Dick Scholefield

A single player role-playing adventure though the French countryside in 1944.

As usual it is a mixture of old, new, and developing projects, and the historical periods covered – as well as they style and genre of games – is diverse. My problem is that there is just too much choice, and I am going to have a problem deciding which sessions I will go to.

Thursday 3 June 2010

Nugget 236

I took the latest issue of THE NUGGET (N236) to the printers just before I went on my latest cruise, and I collected it this afternoon.

It is now in envelopes waiting for me to take it to the Post Office tomorrow morning for posting. Once it is in the post I will make the PDF versions of THE NUGGET and the THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT available for e-members to download from the Wargame Developments website.

This is the last issue of THE NUGGET to be published before COW2010, and it contains the current list of sessions that will be put on.

New wargaming 'real estate'

Whenever I go anywhere, I am always on the look-out for anything that might have a wargaming use. One thing that I have noticed over the years is that many souvenir shops sell small-scale, ready-painted model buildings. To date I have bought such models in Croatia, Greece, and Denmark; I can now add Belgium to that list.

During our trip to Bruges (Brugge), my wife and I went into a shop that specialised in lace and tapestry. As these are not of particular interest to me I wandered around the shop whilst my wife selected the items she wanted to buy. On a shelf above one of the displays was a whole line of model buildings. They were almost all shops, and several of them were based on actual buildings in Bruges ... so I bought some!

I have placed an Essex Miniatures 15mm figure next to the buildings to give some idea of their size.

Having got them home and unpacked them, I discovered that they fit in very well with the buildings I bought in Denmark (see earlier picture).

A very serendipitous purchase!

Hans Arenstein AKA Harry Andrews

Having seen his grave, and having blogged about him yesterday, I decided to try to find out some more about Hans Arenstein AKA Harry Andrews and this is what I discovered:
  • He was the son of a department store owner and he had escaped from Germany in the Kindertransport evacuation of Jewish children after the infamous events of the Kristallnacht
  • His parents, Max and Gertrude Arenstein, settled in Sao Paulo, Brazil, but he decided to join the British Army to fight Nazism
  • He became a member of No.3 (Jewish) Troop, No.10 (Inter-Allied) Commando, an unit that was specially set up to bring together members of the different Allied nations who could be trained and used for special missions behind enemy lines
  • He was enrolled in the British Army as Arenstein, Hans/Arenstein, Richard, and his number was 13804535
  • He died leading a reconnaissance patrol in Normandy when he trod on a mine that exploded and killing him instantly
  • His grave originally had a cross on it, but this was changed to the Star of David after his mother made representations through a Jewish chaplain, Rev Isaac Levy
A truly remarkable young man, whose life and deeds deserve to be remembered alongside those of his colleagues.

Wednesday 2 June 2010

I have been to ... Belgium and France

To be precise, my wife and I went to Zeebrugge and Le Havre courtesy of P&O Cruise's MV Arcadia, and from those ports we travelled various other places in Belgium and France.

Day 1: Zeebrugge

We arrived in Zeebrugge on Monday morning, and awoke to find that the sun was obscured by rainclouds. As usual our ship had moored alongside the main Belgian Navy base, and I was please to see that one of the two Belgian frigates – the Louise-Marie (F931) – was in port. She was originally the Dutch Karel Doorman Class HNLMS Willem van der Zaan, but was rechristened on 8th April 2008 when she was commissioned into the Belgian Navy.

What was a surprise was the presence of a Russian Federation Navy Ropucha Class landing ship. I was unable to identify which of the four ships of this class that are currently in service with the Baltic Fleet this was, but I was struck by the smart turn-out of her crew.

This class carries an interesting armament that includes the 76 mm AK-176 DP Gun, seen below.

Also moored alongside was the Godetia (A960), an lightly armed auxiliary vessel that has three main tasks:
  • Fishery protection
  • Acting as a support and supply ship for minesweepers
  • Acting as a command ship for mine countermeasure operations
During the afternoon the Godetia was joined by two other auxiliary vessels, Stern (A693) – an ex-Swedish Coast Guard vessel (Karlskrona KBV-171) – and ...

... the A955.

What is interesting is that I cannot find any ship numbered A955 listed as being part of the Belgian Navy ... except for a ship – the Eupen – that was decommissioned in 1966.

Whilst in Zeebrugge my wife and I used the opportunity to travel to Bruges (Brugge) by train. Despite the rain we had a pleasant few hours there, and I managed to buy several small model buildings that I will be able to use for wargaming.

We also saw the following statue of King Albert, who led the Belgians during the First World War.

Day 2: Le Havre

Our day in Le Havre was taken up with an organised trip to see the British D-Day landing beaches. We began with a trip to the British Cemetery at Ranville.

Like all British Commonwealth War Grave Commission cemeteries, this was immaculately maintained. Every one of the cemeteries they maintain is dominated by a standard cross that bears a sword as part of its design.

One grave in particular caught my eye; it was that of Lance Corporal H Andrews.

The fact that he was Jewish was what first drew my attention to his grave, but when I read the inscription at the bottom I began to realise how unique his grave was.

The inscription reads as follows:
6436352 L.CPL
11TH AUGUST 1944 AGE 22

This young man had obviously fled Germany during his youth, and then joined the British Army so that he could fight against Nazism. He paid the ultimate price for taking this course of action, and in remembrance I placed a stone on the gravestone as a small token of my gratitude to him and all the others who were buried with him.

I also spent some time by the memorial to the fallen of the 6th Airborne Division, the division with which my own father served as a member of 53rd (Worcestershire Yeomanry) Airlanding Light Regiment, RA).

From there we travelled on to the famous Pegasus Bridge over the Caen Canal.

We were dropped of on the side of the canal where Major John Howard and his men – most of whom were members of D Company, 2nd Battalion, The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry – landed by glider early in the morning of 6th June 1944. The spot is marked by a bust of Major Howard.

We then walked over the bridge (which is still 'guarded' by a rusting German antitank gun!) ...

... to the Café Gondrée, the first building to be liberated on D-Day.

This end of the bridge is also 'guarded', this time by a Close Support version of a Centaur tank. This is armed with a 95mm howitzer, and served as part of the Royal Marine Armoured Support Group on D-Day and until the unit was disbanded fourteen days after the landings took place.

After a trip to Arromanche for lunch and a visit to the Musée de Débarquement, we then travelled on to the German coastal defence battery at Longues-sur-Mer.

This battery was built and crewed by the German Navy until just before the D-Day landings took place. As a result the guns used were standard 150mm naval guns (as used a secondary armament on the German battleships and battle-cruisers) mounted in individual concrete casemates.

Each casemate had its own ammunition supply system that operated in a similar way to that used aboard ship.

Three of the casemates remain in reasonable condition, as does the central command center which is on the cliffs overlooking the sea.

In the run-up to the D-Day landings this battery was repeatedly bombed, but it remained largely undamaged. On D-Day it engaged the Allied Fleet, and was in turn fired at by HMS Ajax, USS Arkansas, and the French cruiser Georges Leygues. Eventually four of the three guns were silenced, and the battery was finally captured on D-Day+1 by the 231st Infantry Brigade.

Displayed alongside the newly-built visitors' centre is a Russian 76.2mm M1902/30 Divisional Gun. This had been captured by the Germans at some time after July 1941, and was deployed to defend the battery from landward attacks.

This marked the end of our tour, and we returned tired and somewhat damp to our ship, just in time to sail for Southampton.